Context: After three rounds of military-level talks, a round between the two foreign ministers, between the Special Representatives on the Boundary Question movement, de-escalation is said to be taking place in the military build-up at the Line of Actual Control.

More on news:

  • Chinese soldiers are said to be stepping back in three of the contentious areas — Galwan, Hot Springs and Gogra. 
  • This is a development in the right direction. 
  • However, the verification process by the Indian Army is still underway.
  • The incident at Galwan Valley in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed, took place at a time when the two sides were supposed to be disengaging.
  • Moreover, there appears no de-escalation at the other “friction point”, Finger 4 at Pangong Lake. In any case, disengagement does not mean a return to status quo ante yet. 
  • Both countries reiterated their commitment to the maintenance of peace and tranquility in the border areas.

China’s view: 

  • According to the Chinese statement the right and wrong of what recently happened at the Galwan Valley in the western sector of the China-India boundary is very clear. 
  • China will continue firmly safeguarding our territorial sovereignty as well as peace and tranquility in the border areas.

Challenges ahead for India:

  • One is the sheer length of the LAC — 4,000 km of it, compared to the Line of Control which is 740 km.
  • Unpredictability:  China disputes portions on which there was no ambiguity earlier. Both sides have discussed in several previous rounds of talks between the Special Representatives.
    • China has now opened a new front, staking claim to territory in eastern Bhutan, close to the border of Arunachal Pradesh. 
    • This “eastern sector” had never been part of 24 rounds of boundary talks between Bhutan and China.
    • China tried to block UN funding to the Sakteng wildlife reserve in that area.

Lessons that India should learn: 

  • The government must not agree to de-escalate the situation at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh without an agreement on returning to “status quo ante” or the situation before the stand-off began.
    • The PLA has constructed major infrastructure and consolidated its position in Doklam. We should not go for a quick fix, rather we should take the time required to ensure a status quo ante.

Source: https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/editorials/abundant-caution-india-china-disengagement-6493203/

Image Source of the image: India Today